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Design of Protein-Based Biosensors for Selective Detection of Benzene Groups of Pollutants

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journal contribution
posted on 07.08.2018, 00:00 by Shamayeeta Ray, Santosh Panjikar, Ruchi Anand
Benzene and its derivatives form a class of priority pollutants whose exposure poses grave risk to human health. Since benzene lacks active functional groups, devising specific sensors for its direct detection from a milieu of aromatics has remained a daunting task. Here, we report three engineered protein-based biosensors that exclusively and specifically detect benzene and its derivatives up to a detection limit of 0.3 ppm. Further, the biosensor design has been engineered to create templates that possess the ability to specifically discriminate between alkyl substituted benzene derivatives; such as toluene, m-xylene, and mesitylene. Interference tests with simulated wastewater samples reveal that the engineered biosensors can selectively detect a specific benzene compound in water samples containing a milieu of high concentrations of commonly occurring pollutants. This work demonstrates the potential of structure guided protein engineering as a competent strategy toward design of selective biosensors for direct detection of benzene group of pollutants from real time environmental samples.